Ed Balls

Same problem here for Labour

Labour in the UK is in dreadful trouble with a lacklustre leader who is highly rated, by himself mostly.

Last Friday, Ed Miliband’s team assembled to review the previous day’s launch of the “Condition of Britain” report from the IPPR think tank, which Miliband had enthusiastically embraced. The morning papers were dominated by England’s World Cup defeat at the hands of Uruguay, but what coverage there was gave the Labour leader’s aides cause for concern. “No one’s out there backing us up,” observed one of his press advisers sombrely.

Although the speech had been heavily trailed in advance, the rest of the shadow cabinet were conspicuous by their absence. With the exception of Rachel Reeves, who holds the welfare brief, few of Miliband’s colleagues appeared keen publicly to endorse his tough new line on benefits.

“Well, what did they expect,” one bemused shadow cabinet member told me. “He’s spent the past four years telling everyone: ‘I’m going to stand up to the Tories on welfare.’ Then he suddenly says: ‘Actually, you know what, I’m not.’ And he expects everyone to come running?”

As Ed Miliband is painfully aware, no one is planning to do so. Which is why his office had to spend the rest of Friday ringing round, drumming up support for their beleaguered boss in the weekend papers. Reeves, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt duly emerged to issue supportive statements, along with Neil Kinnock, who was – bizarrely – sent out to rebut the charge that Miliband was turning into… Neil Kinnock.

One person who did not issue a supportive statement, of course, was the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls. Indeed, over the past few weeks, rumours have started to circulate in the corridors of Westminster that Balls is “on manoeuvres”. “He’s up to something,” MPs have been whispering to one another, in conspiratorial tones.

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Miliband Minor channeling Silent T

David Shearer tried the squeezed middle and look where it got him…now it looks like Ed Miliband is trying to channel David Cunliffe in a solid lurch to the left.

Before Labour conference began Ed Miliband’s aides assembled for a meeting to map out their conference strategy. It went something like this. “We could talk about the Squeezed Middle.” “Nah. Much too 2011.” How about “One Nation?” “Duh. Of course. But we can’t just keep banging on about that all week. We tried last year and look where it’s got us.” “OK. Look, I know this may be a bit left-field, but why don’t we use conference to evoke the memory of the dear departed leader Enver Hoxha, first secretary of the Labour Party of Albania, and one of history’s strongest adherents to antirevisionist Marxist Leninism?” “Like it. Bound to go down a bomb with the focus groups.”

So similar it isn’t funny.

Ed Miliband believes he has discovered why his party is struggling to connect with the voters of Britain. He’s not socialist enough. Or more accurately, he’s not being clear enough about just how much of a socialist he is.

He’s been dropping some heavy hints, of course. Flirting with renationalising the railways. Taxing people who live in mansions. Pledging to hang, draw and quarter all those bankers.  Read more »

Would our Labour Party man up to wasteful rail spending

Politicians love to spend other peoples money, especially on things like “public transport”. So it is a pleasant surprise to see a Labour politician manning up and admitting these things are dogs…pity it wasn’t in NZ.

A high speed rail line between London and the North could be scrapped by a Labour government because costs have “spiralled up and up”, shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said.

Mr Balls said that supporting the project without reservation would be “irresponsible” and that there would be “no blank cheque” from Labour.

In his strongest intervention yet on High Speed 2, Mr Balls said that spending £50bn on the project may not be a “good idea”.  Read more »

A good keen man, Ctd

The revelations coming from Damian McBride’s book are still reverberating throughout the UK. The more that is revealed the more I like the sound of him.

In a book, timed to cause maximum damage by being published during the Labour conference, Mr McBride has disclosed how he destroyed the careers of New Labour Cabinet ministers by using smears and lies, and disclosing details of their private lives.

He also described “logging into” Mr Brown’s government email account to access official secrets.

On Saturday night Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, raised the prospect of a criminal investigation into his conduct.

Mr McBride said he discredited the former prime minister’s enemies by tipping off the media about drug use, spousal abuse, alcoholism and extramarital affairs.

In one case, he disclosed that Tony Blair’s wife was being investigated by Customs.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor and a close aide to Mr Brown before he was prime minister, described Mr McBride’s dirty tricks operation as “vile”, but insisted he knew nothing about it.

He said: “He was a law unto himself, it now seems.”  Read more »

A good keen man

It is no secret that I love hunting, whether in the traditional sense or the political sense.

The thrill of the chase, understanding your quarry, finding their habits, tracking them down, manipulating their behaviour, bending them to your will and finally the kill.

It takes a good keen man to do that in the traditional sense, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be applied too in the political world. Damian McBride appears to be one such good keen man.

A key aide to Gordon Brown has admitted destroying the careers of New Labour Cabinet ministers by using dark arts to smear political opponents.

Damian McBride, Mr Brown’s former communications chief, said he discredited the former prime minister’s enemies by tipping off the media about drug use, spousal abuse, alcoholism and extramarital affairs.

In an autobiography that will cast a shadow over Labour’s party conference in Brighton next week, Mr McBride admits attempting to ruin the careers of the former home secretaries Charles Clarke and John Reid.  Read more »

Throwing leadership over to the membership

Labour members are all cock-a-hoop that they may yet get the chance to select the next leader. But what will actually happen?

We can only really look at the recent history of the UK to discover what will happen.

Allowing members to vote on the leader of the parliamentary party sounds like a good idea in theory but what is it like in practice?

Well firstly such a scheme is always, based on the evidence, great for membership growth. Both the Labour party and the Conservative party saw growth in membership as a result of their respective rules around members selecting the leadership.

In 2001 the Conservative party had such a rule and a 5 way leadership battle. Ultimately the membership selected Iain Duncan-Smith, with the backing of the arch-conservatives and the Thatcherites. He was the perfect choice for the membership of the Conservative Party and precisely the wrong choice to try and get votes off of the Labour party. Ultimately the experiment was a failure:

Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership was widely regarded as a disaster for the Conservatives, with the party’s poll ratings declining to under 30% at times. After just two years in the job, IDS lost a confidence vote amongst Conservative MPs and was replaced as leader by Michael HowardRead more »

Here Piggy, pig, pig

Pommy politicians are the best troughers in the world. Check out Ed Balls gold medal troughing effort:

Ed Balls’ ministerial office spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on fine-dining at smart hotels and restaurants, £150-worth of takeaways from Domino’s pizza and shopping at department store chain John Lewis.

Spending on Mr Balls’ office credit card has been released covering the period when he was Schools secretary from 28 June 2007 to 11 May 2010.

The lavish spending has echoes of the credit card bill run by the private office of Lord Prescott when he was deputy Prime Minister.

The details of the spending on the government procurement card were released following a Freedom of Information request from Tom Watson MP, the Labour party’s deputy chairman.

Mr Watson had asked for the spending for the past two years – covering Michael Gove’s time as education secretary – however the Coalition decided to release credit card spending figures going back to April 2006.

In all the disclosures showed that Mr Balls’ office spent around £9,000 during his three years in office, with most of the cash going on travel receipts.  Read more »

Can we swap him for Bill, Ctd

This pommy bastard seems like a good bloke.

“For a Labour government in 2015, it is quite right, and the public I think would expect this, to have a proper zero-based spending review where we say we have to justify every penny and make sure we are spending in the right way.”

In a dig at David Cameron, he said not even the £12 billion foreign aid budget would be exempt from scrutiny. The Prime Minister has been criticised by backbenchers for letting hundreds of millions of pounds in overseas aid go to consultancies.

Giving money to the misbegotten might be popular in the liberal elite wanker circles, but just pisses off normal people.

Mr Balls’ language is likely to antagonise the unions and has already put him slightly at odds with Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader.

Even better he is a Labour MP who is willing to tell the unions to stick it.

Can we swap him for Bill?

Someone from Labour comes good. Unfortunately not here, in England. We should swap Bill for this pommy bastard. He seems to be made out of the right stuff.

Labour will be ‘ruthless’ about cutting public spending, admits Ed Balls.

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, has backed the need for austerity, admitting that Labour will be ‘ruthless’ about cutting public spending beyond 2015.

Unions have UK Labour by the Balls

The Telegraph

The unions are upset that they aren’t being paid the respect they demand they are due by Labour after financing their electoral defeat. the unions here are similarly trying their hand at strong arming Labour with key union backed MPs basically ignoring instructions from David Shearer. I guess when the unions are your paymaster you only have yourself to blame:

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy chairman, attacked Ed Miliband and Ed Balls for failing to warn the party’s trade union backers about a major shift in economic policy.

He said Mr Balls, the shadow chancellor, was “wrong” not to have alerted the unions that he was to support a public sector pay freeze and announce that the party could not promise to reverse deep spending cuts.

Mr Watson, who is also the election campaign coordinator, said Labour “owed” it to the unions, who donate millions of pounds to the party, to treat them with “respect”.

His remarks are likely to be seized on by Conservatives as further evidence that Labour’s union “paymasters” wield too much power over opposition policies.

Mr Miliband, the Labour leader, and Mr Balls were publicly condemned by Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, the largest trade union, over the policy change in January.